The Norwood Historical Society's has an empty 26-fluid-ounce glass Hires Root Beer bottle. Below are two views of this bottle. For years, we have tried to find the history of this bottle and the Norwood plant that filled it with root beer. We have finally located the plant site and a fair estimate of when it was in operation. Also, we found at least two other businesses that later occupied the site, and the location's final demise with the construction of Rookwood Commons.
Now we have more questions: Exactly when did the plant cease operations and why? Did it close completely, did it move elsewhere or was it acquired by another bottler or business? And why was such an odd-sized bottle used?
We would like to have photographs of the building (interior and exterior). If you have such, we would appreciate if you would e-mail copies of them to us. We will include them on this page.
On the back is the statement ...
Initial research of city and suburban directories and other sources did not show a Hires Bottling Company in Norwood, Ohio. Hires Lane was one suggestion — but the directories we searched had no listing for a bottler on that street or anywhere in Norwood or Cincinnati. Recent investigations have solved the mystery. Based on the following newspaper articles, the company was in operation from late 1949 to around 1952. Unfortunately, this is the time period that neither the Society nor the Norwood library has Williams directories for Norwood. However, the Society does have 1949 to 1952 Criss-Cross directories (which we neglected to check until recently) and it confirms that the Hires plant was at 3810 Hires Lane. It was listed in 1951 and 1952, but not 1949 and 1950.
Early in the investigation, Lee G., who lived in Norwood from the late 1940s to 1955 (which turns out to be the time period when Hires was operating the Norwood plant) sent us an e-mail about Hires Root Beer. He said he remembers touring the plant as a 3rd or 4th grade Sharpsburg student. He said the plant was on Duck Creek, near Hudson Avenue. (Note: Hires Lane is off Duck Creek, near Hudson.)
Also, Don B., NHS Class 1951, sent us the following e-mail: "I remember hanging around this plant many years ago. It was on a short side street off the south side of Duck Creek Road. This was at the foot of a steep wooded hillside. I think the same plant also made Barq's Root Beer and Creme Soda. I suspect this part of Duck Creek Road and the plant site was paved over for I-71. It runs right through this area. But my (fairly recent) map of Norwood shows a small street named "Hires Lane" still there in this same area. This street probably marks the site of the plant. Hope this helps."
THE BEGINNING OF 3810 HIRES LANE
Here is a article from the September 12, 1949, issue of The Norwood News:
"CONSTRUCTION OF ROOT BEER PLANT IS DUE
Hires Company Is Building Plant Off Duck Creek
A new smoke-free processing and bottling plant soon will be constructed for the Hire's root beer co. on a private lane just off DuckCreek rd. and at a point almost directly south of the end of Catherine av.
Henry B. Burwinkel has been awarded the contract for this industrial construction, which will cost $33,500.
The building will be a one-story concrete block structure with a steel deck. It will include a sectional office, storage area, bottling, syrup and sugar rooms and a label storage. It will occupy about 7,000 square feet of space. Gas will be used as the source of heat.
It is understood that the new plant will enable Hires to resume the distribution of its product in the Greater Cincinnati area. There has been no distribution here since 1939.
A building permit for the job was issued last Friday."
This December 11, 1949, article gives the address and a problem at the new plant:
Because it found Norwood water too hard for soft drinks the Hires Bottling Co., 3810 Hires Ln., Norwood, successfully appealed to Cincinnati yesterday to provide water. City Council authorized a supply of water to the company under an agreement revocable upon 60 days' notice. City Manager W. R. Kellogg explained that the company leased the Norwood site and built there on the premise that it would get Cincinnati water. A sample of water supplied by the real estate agent was tested by the company and found all right, but it developed later that this came from Cincinnati mains, Mr. Kellogg said. The company's building is linked to the Norwood water system, though otherwise, Mr. Kellogg said, the entire area in which the plant is located is supplied water by Cincinnati."
NEW USE FOR 3810 HIRES LANE
Here is a partial article from the October 2, 1952, issue of The Enterprise:
"FRISCH GETS PERMIT FOR RESTAURANT
Leases Hires Bldg For Commisary At New Location
A new Frisch's Drive-in restaurant will be erected at 2505 Duck Creek rd. at Hires ln., it was disclosed in a record of the permit issued Sept, 19, by Henry B. Burwinkle, Norwood building inspector.
...As a further means of clearing up the traffic and parking situation at Duck Creek rd. and Williams ave., Frisch's has closed the Hires Bottling plant on Hires ln. The Hires building will be used as a commisary for the new restaurant. It is 150 by 50 feet."
Did Frisch's lease the building to another business to operate the commisary (meaning Frisch's owned the building) or did Frisch's lease the building from the owner in order to operate the commisary itself?
A 1954 Williams Directory lists Custom Pack, Inc. at 3810 Hires Lane—the old Hires Botting Company address. Did Custom Pack operate the commisary for the Frisch's restaurant?
THE END OF 3810 HIRES LANE
At some point in time, Carr Tool Company, a manufacturer of cutting tools for machine tools, was located at this address—3810 Hires Lane. In 1999, the business had to relocate because of the "Rookwood Plaza" (sic-Rookwood Commons) development. Supposedly because they could not find a suitable location in Norwood, the business moved elsewhere, but the incentive of a ten-year 60% exemption on real and tangible property taxes probably made the decision to move out of Norwood easier. We have not determined if the Carr company was using the old Hires building, or the Hires plant had been replace with another building. Either way, because the 3810 Hires Lane address was still around in 1999, it indicates that the site had to be located on the south side of I-71 and on the east side of Hires Lane (even numbered addresses are on the east side), perhaps near the P. F. Chang's Chinese Bistro restaurant. The Frisch's restaurant site was surely covered by southbound I-71. From the following maps, it appears that the southern part of Hires Lane is now beneath the strip of shops south of and adjacent to P. F. Chang's.
CARR TOOL COMPANY - LAST TO OCCUPY 3810 HIRES LANE
A PHOTO OF